12/10/2011: For Immediate Release.
Senator van Turnhout Regrets no Commencement Date for 116 000 Missing Children Hotline
Following a Seanad motion initiated by Senator Jillian van Turnhout, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, today announced a commitment from her Department and the Department of Justice and Equality to support the establishment of the long awaited 116 000 Missing Children Hotline. The motion, which received support from all parties and groups within the Seanad, pressed the Government for clarification as to why the Irish branch of the 116 000 Hotline had not yet been made operational.
In response to the Minister’s announcement, Senator van Turnhout said: “While I welcome Minister Fitzgerald’s expression of a commitment to the 116 000 Hotline in 2012, I must express my disappointment that the announcement was not that the Hotline would be established without delay. I truly believe this service is one of vital importance, not only in terms of raising the alarm about missing children but also as a support to the families of missing children, and indeed to missing children themselves. Consequently this further delay must be met with some regret.” Despite the cross party support for the motion, it has taken four years of campaigning to arrive at this announcement.
“While I am saddened that the announcement did not go further, I am encouraged that we in the Seanad could help bring attention to this issue, and to the tireless campaigning done by the ISPCC and other NGOs that has led to this announcement,” Senator van Turnhout said today. “However,” the Senator continue, “I feel it is essential that ComReg assigns a suitable service provider as soon as possible. Furthermore, I would strongly encourage ComReg to follow the lead of 13 of the 16 EU Member States in which the service is operated by members of Missing Children Europe. Who, in conjunction with Daphne, have developed the Minimum Quality Standard Framework within “A Practical Guide for Hotline Providers” to ensure that Missing Children Hotlines throughout Europe are run professionally, efficiently, and effectively and meet European standards of best practice for service users.” The Senator concluded by calling on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to engage effectively and regularly with which ever service provider is assigned the Missing Children Hotline number and to ensure that the service is operating at its full potential without further delay.”
The 116 000 Missing Children Hotline is currently operational in 16 European Union Member States, and aims to provide assistance to families of missing children, particularly those facing a language barrier when dealing with local authorities, by providing a single point of contact whether at home or abroad.
For more information, please contact:
Senator Jillian van Turnhout Leader of the Independent Group (Taoiseach Nominees)
Notes to editor:
• The motion was presented to the Seanad on 12/10/2011.
• On the 15th of February 2007, the European Commission reserved the 116 000 phone number in all EU member states as a common number for emergency action whenever a child goes missing.
• The hotline is currently operational in 16 EU Member States: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom.
• In the Seanad today Senator van Turnhout cited the case of a group of Belgian children who were taken and hidden by their father in very poor and dangerous conditions. Following a request from the Belgian and Portuguese 116000 Missing Children Hotlines, the Portuguese evening news broadcast an appeal for information which concluded by showing 116 000 Missing Children Hotline number on screen. Minutes after the broadcast, the case was resolved.
• General information on the 116 000 Missing Children Hotline can be found at: http://www.hotline116000.eu/